I was terrified of the day that I would have to stop breastfeeding my son. Everyday, he and I, in this perfect rhythm. Morning and night for 18 months of his sweet young life. Despite my fears, I knew that this was a healthy transition for both of us after nearly two years of sleepless nights. It was time to shift to the next phase within our little family.
I was so devoted to the art of breastfeeding. I am pretty sure half of Manhattan has seen my breasts and, well, this mama just doesn’t care. There was nothing more natural than nourishing my son from my body. I was gracefully manic about it: I pumped in airports, public bathrooms, and even overnight FedEx mailed milk home when I had to travel.
I was lucky enough to have two angels by my side guiding me through this challenging process. My beloved lactation consultant, offered incredible daily support on how to implement the 8-Day Wean process in conjunction with my integrative pediatrician Dr. Mark Nessleson’s visual honesty approach.
The blended methods proved to be the formula that worked.
Each night leading up to my son’s 18-month mark, as I put him to sleep I showed a Mary Magdalene-type photo of me breastfeeding him, told him how wonderful it had been to nourish and feed him in this way, and how proud I was of him that we reached our goal.
I’d pick him up, rest him on top of me, and start my stopwatch: 8 minutes of feeding and then we’d call it a night. Every so often I’d announce how much time was left to my little man. “4 minutes and 52 seconds left,” I would announce as I switched breasts and cherished the moment. Every 30 seconds, I would announce another time block dwindling down to one and then a beautiful chime to mark the end. His warm face would look up at me and, to my surprise, just STOP.
Afterwards, per Dr. Mark’s suggestion, I showed him a picture of me covering my breast, exemplifying the change in feeding that we were starting to go through. My son gave me a nod of understanding, which melted my heart. I created a chart to document the countdown and every night, together, we placed a bow on that date to mark every accomplishment. He got a lot of congratulatory hugs and kisses from me during that phase.
From there we read his favorite books while I made fun noises and sounds that I knew would make him giggle. The ritual always ended with me expressing how much I loved him, thanking him for choosing me to be his mama, and letting him know that he will do extraordinary things in this world leaving him smiling before he closed his beautiful eyes to sleep.
And that was it. On the final day, my son was done breastfeeding!
He has barely looked back since, but on occasion, when he does reach for the breast, I gently remind him that we are finished with breastfeeding and onto the next phase. In the beginning, there was a whimper or two during these moments, but they quickly ended and he knowingly pulled back. The difference in our relationship is not something I expected or could have dreamed of. He is such a powerful little individual, owning his new strength. Every morning he immediately asks for his JU JU JU ‘juice’, thirstier than ever now that he doesn’t have mid-night feedings.
We got this… the two of us!
Initially, one of my biggest fears as a mom was to end breastfeeding incorrectly, leaving my child compromised after such a beautiful, magical experience. Knowing that I conquered this fear and did it in the most loving, supportive way empowers me. I know he is ok. Better than ok! I know he is thriving and will continue to do so.
A gift that he constantly reminds of is something I said the day he was born, a lyric from the great Stephanie Mills: “I never knew love like this before.”
Rachel Goldstein is the Founder and CEO of Agent of Change, a company founded solely on the core value of making a difference in people’s lives through its event production, strategic marketing campaigns, project management and consulting. Rachel has worked with extraordinary people making real impacts on today’s culture in areas that are changing the world we live in, such as wellness, peace initiatives, women’s rights, education, veterans issues, political advocacy, social justice, philanthropy and entertainment. Change happens by those who ask for it, and it is Rachel’s fundamental principle to provide those who seek change with the proper tools to achieve it.